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Planning 'free for all' will damage environment and economy

24 March 2011
The Enterprise Zones announced today will add to congestion and hurt, rather than help, local economies, according to sustainable transport group Campaign for Better Transport.

The group also warned that the changes to planning regulation announced in yesterday's Budget could create a planning free for all and an explosion of out of town, car-based developments.

Chief Executive Stephen Joseph said: "The last round of Enterprise Zones spurred big car-based out of town retail developments in places like Dudley, Sheffield and Gateshead. These generated huge traffic jams, added pressure for expensive new roads, sucked the life out of existing town centres and were extremely costly in terms of job creation. These new zones are in danger of becoming a planning free for all, which would add to congestion and pollution and destroy established high streets. If these new zones repeat the mistakes of the past, we could end up with more out of town development that will fail to rebalance the economy or support the kind of jobs we need to compete internationally."

The group also warned of a backlash amongst Conservative voters, similar to that generated by the proposed forest sell-off, once people realise the implications of the changes to planning policy outlined in the Budget and accompanying Growth Plan.

Mr Joseph added: "The last Conservative Government found out the hard way that deregulating planning does not help the economy, harms the environment and is unpopular with its own supporters. It should listen to former ministers like John Gummer who in the 1990s replaced deregulation with a plan-led system that gave developers certainty while protecting town centres and the countryside and reducing not generating traffic."

Notes to Editors

1. The Chancellor announced the creation of 21 new Enterprise Zones as part of the Budget. 11 will come from already established local enterprise partnership areas (Liverpool City Region, Black Country, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, Derby and Derbyshire, Western England (includes Bristol), London, Leeds City Region, Sheffield City Region, Greater Birmingham and Solihull, North Eastern England, Greater Manchester and the Tees Valley) with a further ten zones identified by July.

2. Campaign for Better Transport is the UK's leading authority on sustainable transport. We champion transport solutions that improve people's lives and reduce environmental damage. Our campaigns push innovative, practical policies at local and national levels. Campaign for Better Transport Charitable Trust is a registered charity (1101929).